The legend of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira grew a little more at UFC 134, where he came back from three surgeries and a 19-month layoff to take out surging contender Brendan Schaub by TKO in under three minutes. Nogueira had been largely written off by fans due to his injuries and semi-recent performances, but he showed everyone that he's still a force to be reckoned with. The bout began with Schaub landing a few solid shots and Nogueira looking to push Schaub against the cage and take him down. Not long after that though, everything changed.
Nogueira had Schaub against the cage and rang his bell with a nice combination. Schaub appeared out on his feet, which led Nogueira to drop him with the next few shots and pound him out not long after. The crowd went absolutely insane when Herb Dean stepped in. So did I. Nogueira ended up winning a $100,000 bonus for Knockout of the Night. This bout was the second matchup on the UFC 134 pay-per-view broadcast.
What was the high spot of this fight?
The finish, of course. When Big Nog stunned Schaub, the crowd went wild. But when Schaub crumpled to the mat and ate a bunch of shots, they went absolutely bonkers. Media row was covered in beer. They were crying. It was truly a magical moment that even eclipsed the reaction Tito Ortiz got for his finish of Ryan Bader at UFC 132.
Where do these guys go from here?
Big Nog went for everyone telling him he was done to maybe being a fight away from a title shot. How about that turnaround? Where he goes from here is anyone's guess though. There aren't a ton of elite heavyweights, and one of them just happens to be a disciple of his. A bout with Brock Lesnar looks very good on paper, but Lesnar is likely to get a different opponent for his comeback fight. The winner of the Roy Nelson vs. Mirko Filipovic would be an excellent choice, for very different reasons depending on the fighter.
This was a huge, huge setback for Schaub. Questions about his chin are going to follow him for a long while (this was only the third TKO win of Big Nog's 40-fight career), and all his momentum is gone. A matchup with Stefan Struve or Travis Browne (if he gets by Rob Broughton at UFC 135) could be possible.
Watch it now, later, or never?
Right now. Nogueira's redemption was a thing of beauty, and having it take place in Brazil made it that much more awesome. If was honestly one of my favorite moments in MMA history, and it will be one of yours too. GO. WATCH. NOW.
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